A good rule to remember when choosing paint sheen is that the higher the level of sheen, the higher the level of shine, and the greater the paint’s durability.

At opposite ends of the scale is flat paint with no shine and high-gloss with the most shine. In between these extremes are eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss finishes. Each has its place in your home. Learn which paint to choose for your project.


High-gloss is the shiniest and easiest to clean of the paint finishes. Its surface is hard and very durable. Because of its shininess, it reflects light well.

Choose high-gloss for areas that need to withstand cleaning often. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets, doors, and trim are suitable surfaces on which to use high-gloss paint. Surfaces need to be well prepared, as the light reflecting paint will show all imperfections.


Semi-gloss also works well on surfaces that get a lot of use. Semi-gloss is sometimes used on kitchen and bathroom walls. It has high durability but less shine.


Choose satin paint for a lustrous effect. It cleans easily. Brush or roller marks may be more noticeable with satin paint, making touch-ups more noticeable. Use satin paint in family living areas and bedrooms.


Eggshell falls between satin and flat for both sheen and durability. It’s predominately flat with little luster. Wall imperfections are less noticeable with eggshell paints lower level of luster. It works well in more formal rooms, such as living and dining rooms.


Flat paint reflects the least amount of light, making irregular wall surfaces less visible. Flat paint gives good coverage but is difficult to clean without removing paint from the surface. Paint master bedrooms, dens, or studies that won’t get a lot of wear and tear with this paint finish. Paints with greater sheen are usually more expensive than lower luster varieties.

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